Saturday, 17 April 2010

A Manifesto for Manchester

As I'm running as the Libertarian Party candidate for Manchester City Council in the Miles Platting and Newton Heath ward, here is my personal manifesto:

1. Libertarians believe that taxes should be kept as low as possible and as fair as possible. Council Tax is neither, it has no relation to the ability to pay and Manchester City Council has insisted on increasing it year after year, even in times of recession. I will never vote for an increase in Council Tax, under any circumstances and I will work to get it decreased. The annual increases in the rate of Council Tax levied by this council are a crippling burden on the working poor of this city. I believe that by cutting waste, improving efficiency and focusing on core functions, a cut of at least 10% in the Council Tax bill is achievable while still providing necessary services. This would put between £54 and £265 back into the pockets of each tax payer.

2. As a Libertarian, I am totally opposed to this Labour-dominated council's policy of collaborating with the government's expensive and discredited ID card scheme. The main problem with the ID card scheme is not the cards themselves. The real problem is that if you have an ID card, your personal details will be recorded on the National Identity Register – a centralised database which will be accessible to thousands of civil servants and vulnerable to hacking and criminal abuse. No need for ID cards has been demonstrated and yet this council insists on airport workers and students having them. How long until they try to force the rest of us to follow suit?

3. Libertarians oppose the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders by local councils. This is a form of legalised theft which has been heavily employed against residents of Miles Platting and Collyhurst South recently. People work hard for years to buy their own homes – why should the council then be able to throw them out of their homes, knock them down and pay them below market value for their homes? And all to clear the way for yet another of the council's seemingly never-ending “regeneration” projects. This Labour-dominated council has been knocking down and rebuilding parts of this city for as long as I can remember – a policy which destroys communities while doing little or nothing to improve the quality of life in Manchester. If elected, I will always oppose the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders.

4. As a Libertarian, I believe that local councils should focus on providing the core services which people expect them to provide – policing the streets, maintaining the roads, gritting, waste collection and so on – as efficiently as possible. If elected, I will work to ensure that the council's resources are used to maintain and improve these necessary services and not wasted on grand schemes and white elephant projects. Funding for non-essentials such as art galleries, museums, parades and so on should be left to the private and voluntary sectors who can usually do a better job of running them.

5. Libertarians believe in open, accountable government, both at national and local level. The public were rightly outraged when the scandal over MP's expenses broke last year, but local politicians have continued to feather their own nests while being largely ignored by the media. In 2008-09 Manchester city councillors claimed a total of £1,875,032.79 in allowances between them! Labour councillor John Flanagan – who is defending his seat in this election – personally claimed £25,520.67 in that year. Not bad for part time work! If elected, I will claim the minimal amount in allowances which I believe to be justified, and I will publish any claims I make on the internet within a week of claiming them, so that the taxpayers of this ward can decide for themselves whether they're getting value for money from me. I will also publish details of every Council motion I vote on (and those I abstain on) giving reasons why. Politicians should be prepared to account for their actions to the public every single day, not just every four years.

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